Ostrava Concert Hall named one of the world’s Top 10 current architectural projects

Ostrava officials hope modern architecture will put the post-industrial city on the map

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 15.07.2020 15:04 (updated on 15.07.2020)

A planned concert hall in Ostrava has been named one of the 10 most interesting architectural projects by online magazine Architizer.

The ranking is meant to show how some of the architecture world’s leading stars are creating landmarks for the future. “From conceptual planning to construction, some of the world’s upcoming icons are already underway. These are the projects set aim to form a focal point for the locations in which they are constructed, providing a civic value that extends far beyond each project’s boundary,” Eric Baldwin said of his list.

Ostrava Concert Hall is designed by Steven Holl Architects, a New York based firm known for the REACH expansion of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (2019); the Hunters Point Library in New York (2019); the Bloch Building addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri (2007); the Linked Hybrid complex in Beijing (2009); and the 2004 Simmons Hall at MIT.

ostrava concert hall
Visualization of Ostrava Concert Hall / via Steven Holl Architects

The planned 1,300 seat zinc-clad concert hall in Ostrava will straddle the existing Dům kultury (Culture Center). The building, according to the architects. was designed as a “perfect acoustic instrument in its case” in collaboration with Nagata Acoustics. The new building will provide performance space for the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra, a leading Czech orchestra for commissioning contemporary music.

The building is designed to resemble a case from a music instrument when seen from above. Construction on the building will begin in 2022, and the first concerts should take place in 2024. The cost of the building is estimated at 1.5 billion CZK, without VAT. The city, region and Czech state will participate in funding the concert hall’s construction.

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ostrava concert hall
Visualization of Ostrava Concert Hall / via Steven Holl Architects

The contrast of the intertwined old and new buildings is supposed to be a symbol of Ostrava moving into a new direction for the future, while retaining its important past.

Ostrava used to be an industrial center, but in recent years it has been trying to reinvent itself as an arts and culture capital.

“Ostrava needs top architecture, and I believe that thanks to its uniqueness, [Ostrava Concert Hall] will become an important tourist destination not only on the map of the Czech Republic in a few years,” Ostrava Mayor Tomáš Macura told the Czech edition of Forbes magazine.

ostrava concert hall
Visualization of Ostrava Concert Hall / via Steven Holl Architects

Other cities such as Sydney with its opera house and Bilbao with its Guggenheim Museum have turned modern architecture into municipal symbols that helped to put them on the world map.

Macura added that the new hall would also help to boost the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra into the spotlight. The ensemble was founded in 1954 but has never has a dedicated concert hall with good acoustics. They have been using a ball room in Dům kultury, which was not designed as a musical venue.

The new concert hall is being designed with acoustics in mind thanks to the help of Japan’s Nagata Acoustics. The consultancy has participated in the design of over 70 concert hall in Japan and a number of international projects including the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Philharmonie de Paris, the Danish Radio Concert Hall and the Helsinki Music Centre.

ostrava concert hall
Visualization of Ostrava Concert Hall / via Steven Holl Architects

Janáček Philharmonic’s director Jan Žemla said the improved acoustics would help the ensemble to develop its potential and reach a wider international audience.

In the long term, the hall will generate money from leasing its large and chamber halls as well as smaller lounges and a recording studio. There will also be a café and restaurant in the complex.

Steven Holl Architects + Architecture Acts won the competition for the new hall in July 2019, with support of six of the seven jury members.

“It is a fantastic piece of architecture considering very well the relationship between the City of Ostrava and the park behind the existing building. I believe the winning project will be an emblematic piece of architecture for Ostrava revitalizing the city as well,” jury member Krzysztof Ingarden said in 2019 when the winner of the competition was announced.

ostrava concert hall
Visualization of Ostrava Concert Hall / via Steven Holl Architects

The building is shielded from urban traffic noise because the hall faces an existing park. A new entrance on the promenade rises over the top of the existing historical Dům kultury in a sky-lit lobby for the new hall.

“The smooth case of zinc holds an ‘instrument’ in an extended vineyard-type plan made of concrete and maple wood. Acoustic wall panels are organized according to three variants,” Steven Holl Architects said in a press release.

Ostrava is also looking to preserve its past, and recently announced a project to turn part of its former iron works in Dolní oblast Vítkovice into a museum. A spherical industrial building in the area has already been turned into a theater and concert venue called Gong.

Several of the other projects named on Architizer’s list of future landmarks have Czech connections.

ostrava concert hall
Visualization of Ostrava Concert Hall / via Steven Holl Architects

Unicorn Island Masterplan by Zaha Hadid Architects is intended for Chengdu, China. The late British-Iraqi architect Hadid also designed the project for the revitalization of the area around Prague’s Masarykovo nádraží.

People in Prague will also recognize the name Frank Gehry from the Dancing House. Luma Arles Tower by Gehry Partners, nearing completion in Arles, France, was the first project mentioned on Architizer’s list.

Heatherwick Studio designed the renovation and revitalization project for Savarin Palace, next to Wenceslas Square and Na Příkopě. The same studio got a nod for its Pier55 project in New York City.

Projects by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Herzog & de Meuron, Studio Gang, OMA, Studio Libeskind, and Santiago Calatrava also made the Architizer’s list.